Alice Russell & Quantic: Look Around the Corner
Just shy of eclipsing the top ten, Alice Russell has been discussed with the likes of Amy Winehouse and Adele, in terms of her potential. This extremely diverse project brings an experimental feature to the jazz genre. Plenty of soul and authentic musicianship, but not quite top ten for the year.
Notable Tracks: Here Again, I'll Keep My Light In My Window, I'd Cry
Usher- Looking 4 Myself
With his seventh studio album, the R&B vet gives us a few more to add to his collection of bangers. The club inspired record is definitely not Ursher’s best work, but with great production he certainly gives us an album worth a listen.
Notable Tracks: Climax, What Happened To U, Twisted
Solange: True EP
Solange Knowles releases this 7 track EP in preparation of her 3rd studio album set to be released early 2013. This dance R&B record features an upbeat pop indie feel and is a very easy listen.
Notable Tracks: Looking For You, Locked In Closets, Lovers In the Parking Lot
In her seventh studio album Rihanna supplies another quality piece of work. Even though it is a borderline pop album, Unapologetic has a very smooth feel to it which warranted a spot on an R&B list. As much as some may be getting tired of Rih, she continues to produce some of the catchiest melodies known to man. Teaming up with super producers such as The Dream, No I.D., Mike Will Made-It, and David Guetta, this album is a must have for whatever type of turn up you’re looking for.
Notable Tracks: Diamonds, Pour It Up, Love Without Tragedy/ Mother Mary
9. Brandy: Two Eleven
Our beloved Brandy has become an R&B veteran. Her sixth studio album teamed her with producer Rodney Jerkins, and caught instant attention with several bangers and ballads that reminded us of Brandy's experience in making substantial R&B music.
Notable Tracks: Let Me Go, Put It Down, Scared of Beautiful
8. Elle Varner: Perfectly Imperfect
Aside from popular radio hits "Only Wanna Give It To You" and "Refill", Elle Varner brings a soulful flavor that simply can't be overlooked. With a voice that blends coffee shop with Baptist church choir, this album was refreshing for R&B and left a lasting impression.
Notable Tracks: I Don't Care, Not Tonight, Damn Good Friends
7. Alicia Keys: Girl on Fire
It certainly is good to have Ms. Keys back, or Mrs. Beatz I should say. The Alicia Keys we used to know is no more. This 'girl on fire' is a declaration for a brand new look, sound, and attitude for the accomplished musician. Though I don't believe this album necessarily stacks up with her previous work, her greatness is personified throughout the project with edgy production and heartfelt style.
Notable Tracks: When It's All Over, One Thing, 101
6. Melanie Fiona: The MF Life
When it comes to vocals, I have no problem saying that Melanie Fiona could be in the same sentence as a Jennifer Hudson. Her runs are pure and there's a raspy touch to her voice that is faint but attractive. With her ability to collaborate with the likes of Nas and John Legend, 'The MF Life' also brings a personal aspect that instantly identifies listeners with Fiona's true potential.
Notable Tracks: Wrong Side Of A Love Song, Running, L.O.V.E
5. Robert Glasper Experiment: Black Radio
In the Houston native’s fifth solo album, Robert Glasper puts together an extremely strong collaborative album. The thirty-four year old jazz pianist and his band, Experiment, took to the lab to construct one of the smoothest pieces of the year. Black Radio is explicitly jazz-infused, featuring an after-hour quartet sound. It’s like the perfect mix of hip-hop, r&b, and jazz. Seasoned veterans are spread across the album from Erykah Badu to Musiq Soulchild to Lupe Fiasco. It is an album best served with a glass of scotch on the rocks.
Notable Tracks: Afro Blue (featuring Erykah Badu), Move Love (featuring KING), Smells Like Teen Spirit
4. Emeli Sande: Our Version of Events
It is not very often that an artist’s debut album can be considered as one of the best of its time. But in the case of twenty-five year old Scottish singer/songwriter Emeli Sande the aforementioned situation is reality. Emeli has drawn comparisons to the late Whitney Houston, and on Our Version of Events she does her very best impression of the legend. Had this not have one of the best years for R&B we’ve seen in some time, she could of easily had R&B album of the year. She possesses a very powerful voice and can realistically belt with the best of them. Look forward to seeing a great deal more of Emeli in 2013.
Notable Tracks: Heaven, My Kind of Love, Mountains, Lifetime
3. The Weeknd: The Trilogy
Comprised of his three highly acknowledged mixtapes from 2011, 'The Trilogy' was a mastered accumulation of all the music that magnetized us to The Weeknd. When it comes to R&B, his music is far from typical and creatively post-modern. From the darkness of his sound to the trembling pain of his vocals, the overall content of this project was too heavy to fall below #3.
Notable Tracks: High For This, Coming Down, The Knowing, Thursday, The Zone, Heaven or Las Vegas, D.D., Montreal, The Fall, Echoes of Silence
2. Miguel: Kaleidoscope Dream
It was never a question of whether or not Miguel could sing. It was always, would he be able to separate himself from your run of the mill hook singer. Well, with his sophomore album Kaleidoscope Dream, Miguel more than answered that question. In what I would consider a musical masterpiece, Miguel gives fans and critics alike a little bit of everything. The album’s first single Adorn is deservingly being considered for song of the year and the track list boasts at least five more tracks that can be considered elite. With Kaleidoscope Dream, Miguel has produced one of the best R&B albums of the last decade. Period.
Notable Tracks: Adorn, Gravity, Candles In The Sun, Where’s the Fun In Forever
1. Frank Ocean: Channel Orange
2012’s Best R&B album goes to Frank Ocean by what would have to be a unanimous decision. Arguably the best overall album of the year, Channel Orange served as one the best full pieces of work we have seen in quite some time. Frank is also somewhat of a new-comer but what separates him from the pack is his song writing ablility. Frank paints as vivid of pictures as possible in his story-telling and uses a delivery as cold as ice. From the 9-minute two-part epic Pyramids to the his ode to a drug addict entitled Crack Rock, Frank leaves very little question of what was the best piece of the year. The album will eventually go down as a classic and is packed with songs that seem to have limitless playback value. With Channel Orange, Frank Ocean struck gold (literally if you’re an RIAA enthusiast).
Notable Tracks: Pyramids, Lost, Crack Rock, Pink Matter (featuring Andre 3000), Thinking Bout You
- L. Reels & Martin Soaries
@ L_Reels919 @marley_mcfly